Sketch by Chris Al-Aswad
February 2007 – Normal, IL
“…My mind is a temple of illusion and I am a false god. True, there is something pure and positive in me but it is hidden so deep, under all the layers of illusion. I seem to know my soul exists but I am constantly running from that source. Instead, I obsess over personal problems and my mind resorts to fantasy – to lusts or material desires. The Buddhists are right about one thing – that we can’t trust the mind. The mind is not to be trusted. And yet I listen to the thoughts that run through my head and quickly, I get caught up in my old ways – nervousness, busyness, impatience – never resting in the moment, always rustling. I try to practice awareness but my awareness is not genuine because simultaneously I am giving in to the pleasures of the ego of lusting, of wanting, of fantasizing. I can not be aware without gravitation toward illusion and then my mind becomes more charged with anxiety because now I am self conscious.
The ego has a plan for me everyday. Will I follow it? I usually do – that plan leaves me with little satisfaction and more desire. My desires have many faces but the general urge is to have something else to change how I feel by possessing something.
What is wrong with how I feel? I feel like time is running out. I feel the need to perform. I feel the pressure to maintain an illusion.
My life is mostly an illusion with a grain of the truth. The paradox is that my illusions teach me to become wise. We cannot be led directly to the source, the source is too powerful. We must go by indirection – mistake after mistake we learn to take another route. Once I thought I knew what I wanted. Now I see that I want everything and none of it will help me change the way I feel.
I feel the burden of living. The flux, the rise and fall of hopes, the patience involved. Where am I moving toward? Not more illusion but less – I am moving toward the light. These illusions will not save me more. I am not who I thought I was - my talents, my security, my good sense is not what I thought it was. I must tell myself Chris, you are not so wise. Your life is little more than a petty day dream. Wake up. These illusions you drown yourself in – do not trust them – do not trust your mind.”